SAN ANTONIO – Two new faces are vying to be the first new District 5 City Council member in eight years.
Current Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales is completing her final and fourth term in office, leaving her seat representing the West Side open. Teri Castillo and Rudy Lopez finished at the head of an 11-way race to replace Gonzales in the May 6 municipal election with 2,077 and 991 votes, respectively.
Since neither gained a majority of the votes, they’re squaring off in a runoff election on June 5.
Castillo, a substitute teacher and community organizer for housing affordability and health care, believes that she has the experience that will help her enact change.
“I’ve had one-on-one conversations with every city council member to push policy. So I know what it takes. I understand all the nuances of how the city runs,” Castillo said.
Castillo said the district’s subpar infrastructure is a big issue for her, as is better funding for programs that can benefit the district’s “established communities,” such as the Under 1 Roof program, which replaces qualified homeowners’ roofs.
“The reality is that property in District 5 for real estate investors is really cheap. For the established communities, it’s becoming very expensive. So in order to ensure that our community gets to enjoy all these new amenities coming to the district, that we stabilize our neighborhoods” Castillo said.
Lopez sees enhanced senior services as the biggest issue for the district, through after-school programs, better infrastructure, and public safety - through better response times and good community engagement - also made his list.
“We need to be taking care of our seniors. If that includes affordable housing, if that includes COVID relief, if that involves helping grandparents that are raising their grandkids now,” he said.
Lopez is a former civilian employee with the San Antonio Police Department, but it’s his time with the Thompson Neighborhood Association - four years as vice-president and four years as president - that he thinks gives him the edge in experience.
“I’ve proven over the years that I can do the job,” Lopez said. “I’ve worked on development projects. I’ve worked at bringing in new playgrounds in our park, worked on drainage programs and trying to bring streets and sidewalks in to my neighborhood already.”
The new candidates differed on Proposition B in the May election. Though the effort to repeal police officers’ collective bargaining power failed in the citywide vote, a precinct-by-precinct breakdown shows that it did well in much of District 5.
To Castillo, who supported Prop B, that shows residents “care about police accountability,” which she believes will bring them out to the ballot box for the runoff, too.
Lopez agreed that the District 5 residents want accountability, but he believes that should happen through negotiations with the police union.
“I don’t think we needed to go through Prop B to do that. I think that we just needed the citizens to be heard,” Lopez said.
The District 5 race is one of five council races going to a runoff election on Jun. 5. Early voting began Monday and will run through Tuesday, Jun. 1, with the exception of Sunday, May 30 and Monday, May 31.
You can read more about how Castillo, Uresti, and other candidates in the Jun. 5 runoff responded to questionnaires about their stances HERE.